2019 Year-End Report
Democratic State Committee Member, 76th District
Less than a year from now, our country will be holding one of the most consequential elections in its history. In New York, Democrats are looking to hold their new majority in the State Senate and capture a number of Republican held congressional seats. With these important elections ahead, strengthening the New York State Democratic Party is essential. Over the last year, the State Party has become more effective and transparent, which you can read more about below. However, challenges remain, and Democrats must be vigilant in New York State and nationally.
Below you can find updates on my work as Democratic State Committee Member for the 76th District (Upper East Side and Roosevelt Island) over the last few months.
Voted to Open Up the 2020 Presidential Primary
New York State had some of the most restrictive voter laws in the country. Previously, someone changing their registration to be a Democrat would need to do so a year prior to the primary election they sought to vote in. For instance, a Republican or independent looking to vote in the 2020 Democratic Presidential Primary in April 2020 would have had to register as a Democrat in October of 2019.
The State Committee fought to open up our elections by convincing Governor Cuomo and the State Legislature to move the registration deadline for all primaries to February 14th of the year in which the primary is being held. This will provide months for voters to change their party affiliation, making elections more open and allowing more potential voters to participate.
Elected DNC Members
In the past, New York’s Democratic National Committee (DNC) Member selections were internal State Party votes without much notice or debate. As a result, few New Yorkers are aware of who their DNC Members are and DNC Members are generally not engaged at the grassroots level.
To change this, the State Committee supported efforts to open up DNC Member elections. At the October 2019 State Committee meeting, we held the first transparent (though internal) election for a New York DNC Member. Three candidates ran, with each providing notice of their candidacy and a biography, as well as speaking or having someone speak on their behalf. The winner was Byron Brown, the longtime Mayor of Buffalo, who brings decades of experience to the position. We hope this improved transparency presages future competitive elections to come.
Above: Check out me and my fellow State Committee Members celebrating with Chair Jacobs.
Last week, me and my fellow Democratic State Committee Members passed sweeping voting reforms for the 2020 New York Democratic Presidential Primary. Thanks to the strong support of Jay Jacobs, Chair of the New York State Democratic Party, the reforms passed without any opposition.
For the 2020 Democratic Presidential Primary, independent voters can now register as Democrats up to 25 days before the primary on April 28. Voters registered with other parties will be allowed to register as Democrats up to 60 days before the primary.
This represents a huge improvement for New York State, long infamous for its restrictive voting laws. In the lead up to the 2016 Presidential Primary, too many independents and members of other parties were shocked to discover that they needed to change their party registration in 2015, just so that they could vote in the 2016 Presidential Primary.
Improved voter access is both the right thing to do and strategically smart for the State Party. The Democratic National Committee (DNC) considered taking away delegates awarded in the Presidential Primary if the State Party did not improve voter access. This measure ensures that New York will remain the state with the second most delegates at the convention. Meanwhile, this allows more voters to become registered Democrats, increasing the number of Democratic voters in New York State.
While there are still further improvements which could be made to New York’s voting laws, this represents a big step in the right direction.
Last Monday, March 4, the New York State Democratic Committee, the leadership of the State Party, met in Westchester. This was a particularly productive meeting, with Jay Jacobs, the current leader of Nassau County's Democrats, being confirmed as the new State Party Chairperson. Chair Jacobs has promised to improve the party's fundraising and grassroots campaigning, seeking to create a cohesive statewide party apparatus.
It was also encouraging to see that Chair Jacobs supported rules reform efforts to improve public access to the party's functioning. For instance, candidates for party offices, such as DNC Member, are now required to submit advance notice of intent to run and encouraged to provide biographies. For too long, important positions such as DNC Member have been selected with little to no public input or awareness. Fortunately, the process will now be more inclusive to New York's Democrats.
Unfortunately, the State Party did pass a resolution condemning fusion voting. Fusion voting is a process long used in New York and other states to allow parties to cross endorse candidates. This allows third parties to have the option to not serve as spoilers in elections. Along with many other State Committee members, I was strongly against this proposal and hope the NYS Legislature does not take this up as a bill.
Overall, the State Party continues to grow stronger and more effective, continuing its success from November 2018. Nonetheless, it is imperative that New York's Democrats maintain this level of enthusiasm so we can have a successful 2020.
This week Jumaane Williams won a stunning victory to become New York City Public Advocate. Along with fellow members of the Four Freedoms Democratic Club, I was proud to have supported him. He won big across New York City, and did especially well on the Upper East Side. Congrats Jumaane!
2019 Winter Report
Democratic State Committee Member, 76th District
2018 was an exciting year for New Yorkers. Democrats flipped more Congressional seats in New York than they had in any election since 2006, and won their largest majority in the State Senate in decades. In 2019, we are already seeing the positive results of this, with Congressional Democrats standing strong on the government shutdown, and the NYS Legislature passing an incredible amount of progressive legislation.
Nevertheless, there is much more work to be done. New York State’s Democratic Party continues to be ineffective compared to other states, and at times downright controversial. If Democrats are to achieve long-term success in New York, we need a strong and fully functioning Democratic Party.
Big Success in November
After Lauren Trapanotto and I won our State Committee primaries in September 2018, we led weekly canvasses to Brooklyn for Max Rose, who was running for Congress, and Andrew Gounardes, who was running for State Senate. They were up against entrenched Republican incumbents, so every door knocked really mattered. Amazingly, both won, with Gounardes only 1,000 votes ahead. I can’t thank everyone enough who went down to Brooklyn with us.
Fixing the State Democratic Party
While Democrats in New York have had a good few months, the State Democratic Party has not. Just before this past Rosh Hashana, the State Party released an anti-Semitic mailer attacking Gov. Cuomo’s opponent. A few weeks later, the State Party meeting was canceled partway through when State Committee Members demanded answers on how and why the anti-Semitic mailer was sent out. Now, Gov. Cuomo has announced that he has appointed a new State Party Chair, despite the fact that State Party Chair is an elected position.
Lauren and I have been amongst those advocating for a more effectively run State Democratic Party. Along with many other State Committee Members, we signed on to a letter demanding answers about why the last State Party meeting was ended early. However, things may not improve until a new, larger group of reform-minded State Committee Members are elected.
Public Advocate Race
With the election of NYC Public Advocate Tish James as NYS Attorney General, a special election has been called for Tuesday, February 26 to fill the vacancy. Along with the Four Freedoms Democratic Club (of which I’m a long-term member), I’m proud to be supporting Jumaane Williams. He’s unafraid of taking on the power elite, having challenged Gov. Cuomo’s Lieutenant Governor in 2018, receiving the New York Times endorsement, and coming within a few points of defeating the incumbent.
The race is going to come down to the wire, with over 10 candidates. Jumaane can use all the help he can get in both money and time, so please let me know if you are able to help out.
If you ever have any questions about New York Democratic politics, or are looking to become more civically engaged, always feel free to reach out. If we're going to beat Trump and his allies in 2020, we'll need Democrats to be motivated and active.
The final votes from the Democratic primary have been tallied and we won big! Click here to view the results. We won with 55% in a three-way race, 30% ahead of our nearest competitor. I’m also glad to say that my running mate, Lauren Trapanotto, won big too! Thank you so much to everyone who campaigned, voted, and donated, you all made this victory possible.
We’re not done yet. With just a month to go before the general election, we need to elect more Democrats in New York! We still have Republican elected officials in New York City, including a State Senator and US Representative. Lauren and I will be campaigning a ton in the next month, so please stay tuned for more volunteer opportunities to make New York blue.